Exercise Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis

Exercise isn’t just about losing weight or keeping it off. Research has shown that people who stay active tend to sleep better, live longer, and have a lower risk of such chronic disease as cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and depression. If those aren’t enough reasons to get off the couch, here’s another: Staying active might lower your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

No one knows exactly why RA develops, though risk factors likely include a family history of the disease, high body mass index, and exposure to certain infections and environmental toxins. Now a new study finds that regular exercise (or lack thereof) might also be an important piece of the puzzle, too.

The study, which was supported by the National Institute of Health and published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, relied on data from the Nurses’ Health Study II. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston analyzed data on 113,366 women, including 506 who had been diagnosed with RA. They determined that those who averaged at least seven hours of recreational activity per week were 33 percent less likely to develop RA compared to those who were sedentary during a 26-year period.

“These results add to the literature implicating metabolic factors in the pathogenesis [cause] of RA,” the authors concluded.

If you already have RA, it’s important to keep moving: Gentle exercise like yoga, walking, or swimming can help ease your symptoms and may even slow RA disease activity.

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Keep Reading

Benefits of Exercise. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html. Published October 4, 2019.

Liu X, et al. Long‐Term Physical Activity and Subsequent Risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis Among Women: A Prospective Cohort Study. Arthritis & Rheumatology. March 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/art.40899.

Surabhi G, et al. Impact of yoga based mind-body intervention on systemic inflammatory markers and co-morbid depression in active Rheumatoid arthritis patients: A randomized controlled trial. Restorative Neurology & Neuroscience. March 2019. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/RNN-180875.